Cover Image: Tunnels


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Member Reviews

A bunch of unpleasant people doing sometimes unbelievable things to no purpose. (I can see why it's being mentioned for awards.) I'm seeking more escapist fare these days, and these caricatures weren't characters I wanted to spend this much time with. The pacing is inconsistent, and the emotional interactions, the parts that most interested me, took a far second place to half-baked archaeological adventures.
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Rutu Modan’s art and Ishai Mishory’s translation give English-language readers the opportunity to experience this graphic novel from Israel. The storyline and characters are both comic and sociopolitically significant. The work combines the two elements in a way that is unfamiliar but captivating. Some knowledge of Jewish history and the current geographical conflict is important, as they the are the common, everyday framework for the original audience.. 

Readers of world literature and graphic novel fans should check this one out. It is well done and a substantive addition to the growing canon.

Thank you to Rutu Mosan, Ishai Mishory, Drawn and Quarterly, and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis: Rutu Modan’s third graphic novel follows explorer Nili Broshi who enlists a motley crew to search for the famed Ark of the Covenant which escalates to heated strifes over who should have it.

My Thoughts: Plot (3.5/5) – The biblical Ark of Covenant is an ancient artifact so legendary that it has inspired countless scholarly discourse and the attention of pop culture regarding its whereabouts including the uber-famous Indiana Jones in the latter department. However, I must give this book props to exploring this longevous object of fascination within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a topic which Israeli-born author Modan is far more knowledgeable in than myself. This is to say I’ll leave any socio-political comments regarding the work’s accuracy to the experts and judge it according to how much I enjoyed the story and characters. 

Art (4/5) -- This is probably the most charming element of this entire book as its linge claire art felt very reminiscent of most notably Belgian cartoonist Hergé of Tintin fame, albeit with less of the endearingly smooth character designs from the likes of him.

Pacing (2/5) – This is where I encountered most of the issues I had with Tunnels. The first two acts focus so heavily on the several mundane interpersonal/cultural conflicts that it felt too bloated for its own good, making for some dry reading in a tiresome sense of the word. It wasn’t until the final two acts that the action picks up and becomes more exciting even though the more mundane and intense moments still was uneven.

Characters (2.5/5) – Some of the character interactions seemed to be aping some of the dysfunctional dynamics of the Tintin adventures. The end product is a cast of half-baked emblems because of how much is squeezed into this single installment. The main characters such as Nili, her brother, and mobile game-obsessed yet inquisitive son Doctor were the only ones I would consider fleshed out enough to keep my attention.

Final Thoughts: Tunnels contained all the trapping to a potentially rousing romp but fell short due to its dullness and inconsistent pacing. While I might read Modan’s other Eisner-winning works someday, I’m certainly in no hurry to do so now.
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Tunnels is the story of rival archaeologists trying to find the Ark of the Covenant somewhere between the borders of Palestine and Israel. Nili and her brother Nimrod have been in conflict within their family for a long time and now they find themselves on opposing archeology teams looking for the Ark. The Ark has great historical and religious significance, so the race to be first is paramount, reputations and family loyalties depend on it! 

This was an interesting and entertaining read, the family and professional rivalries kept the story moving along. The illustrations were great 👍
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